Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kingman Farm moonlight Snowshoe 5k - Random Thoughts

Now that a couple days have passed, some things have popped into my head about this race.

1. I got a chance to meet Laurel. Her and I have run all the same SS races this year including the GSSS and Beaver Brook. However her next race has the number 100 in its name so you won't find me there. Good luck Laurel.

2. I didn't fall during the race. Hey I have to find my victories where ever I can. I've now managed to stay up right at 3 of the 8 snowshoe races I've run this year. Seeing that falling at the start of Kingman Farm could have been fatal this was a very good thing.

3. I ended up walking. ARRRRG!! I'm guessing I went out way to fast and just burnt myself up early on in the race. Steve Wolfe's video of the race on Have2run shows me in 2nd place after the first 100 yards or so. Not good.

4. Snowshoe racing is so much different then road racing. I think that every person who ran the race stayed for the awards ceremony. There seems to be a much closer bond between all the athletes, no matter if you a big dawg (Jim Johnson) or just someone out for moonlight stroll.

5. Race Director Chris Dunn should get race director of the year. He makes the races challenging while at the same time keeps them fun. And if you don't win something in the raffle after the race you sure have bad luck. Almost everyone walks away with something. There were 2 grand prizes at Kingman Farm. The first was a pair of FlightDeck snowshoes from Kahtoola. Very Nice!!! The 2nd and most people considered this the real GRAND price was a years worth of beer from Red Hook. There was one very lucky person who left the race very happy.

6. I beat DoubleJ at two things that day. First, I beat him to the race. Second, I passed him on the highway on the way home. I guess my Silver streak Xtera is more aerodynamic then his bumble bee yellow Xtera. Once again I got to get my wins where I can.

7. The people from Dungeon Rock Racing are a great group of people. Over the past 2 years I've been privileged to get to know many of them and they are fun loving, and hard racing. I wish them continued success over the years. As long as they finish 2nd to acidotic RACING!!

8. The people from acidotic Racing are also a lot of fun and race so hard that I'm 20th string on this team. That only gives me more fuel to get better.

9. For all my hard work and dedication to snowshoeing this year I treated myself to this when I got home after the race. I just love ice cream!!!

10. P90X training started Sunday so no more ice cream :-(

Lastly, one word of advise. "Keep your snowshoes below your head at all times"!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe 5K

The last race in the Granite State Snowshow Series (GSSS) was sure to be a challenge.  The race is run as you might have guessed, at night and requires you to wear a headlamp.  So not only are we we a bunch of geeks running in snowshoes, but we're bunch of geeks running in snowshoes with headlamps on.  At least that's what my kids tell me.  Personally I though it was a lot of fun.  Kingman Farm is part of the UNH campus and is a working farm with forests, fields and Hicks Hill.  

As always I showed up to the race early, very early this time.  The race was to start at 6PM and I arrived at the Madbury town hall at 3:15 so I could take a quick run of the course.  I put my Yaktrax on and started heading out.  As I did Chris Dunn, Race Director Extraordinaire drove into the parking lot, followed by his dad Jim.  I greated both of them, then I was off.  The start of the trail was in tough shape with most of the snow melted away.  The good news was the race was not run on this section of the trail.  As I made my way to the starting area the trail improved greatly.  The snow was firm but not 100% ice like at Horse Hill last week.  In additon the trail was very well marked with flags that Chris had put out on Friday.  It was a great run through the woods and the switch backs up Hicks Hill didn't seem to bad.  Then again, I was taking it easy and just enjoying the outdoors.  On the switch backs I noticed that there was a large tree that had been uprooted and presented a footing challenge.  I noted this and would watch out for it during the race.  

I got back to the Town Hall and decided that I needed to change my cleats from the ice cleats to the long cleats.  As I was doing this Double J drove in.  YES I beat him at something!!  Hey, I got to get my wins where I can!!!   I finished up changing my cleats and headed into the Town Hall to relax and sign in.  Sign in was quick and easy.  I then found a quite area in the Town Hall to relax and go over my race strategy.  You see, I was locked in a battle for 3rd place in the GSSS.  I was sitting in 3rd place with Ted Hall only 1 point behind me and Jay Myers 6 points behind me.  So I had to beat Ted and couldn't let Jay beat me by to many positions.  My plan was simple.  Go out fast and hang on for dear life. 

Soon all the runners showed up and packed the Town Hall.  With 15 minutes to go Chris held a meeting outside to go over the course.  It was well marked with flags and seeing everyone had to wear a head lamp nobody should go off course.  With 10 minutes to go we were able to do a couple of strides to get used to running in the snowshoes.  Chris gave the 1 minute warning, 10, 9 9...2, 1, GO!!!  

As I planned, I went out fast.  It was a down hill start and easy to take it out.  Snow was flying everywhere and reflecting off the light from the headlamps.  It was like being in a Nor'Easterner.  The course took a few turns early on and the lead pack was flying.  I was falling off the lead pack.  I tried to hang on but they were too fast for me.  By the 1K mark I could feel my heart rate hitting record highs and I needed to get it under control.  I started to slow down.  By the 2K mark I started to notice something that really started to worry me.  I started to get tunnel vision.  It appeared that I was loosing my vision and all I could see was what was directly in front of me.  The darkness was closing in on me, I needed to do something.  I was getting scared I never experienced anything like this before.  So I backed it down a little more.  People were passing me.  Soon Jay had passed me, I need to keep him near.  We were approaching the 3K mark where there was a field with a slight up hill and tough footing.  I was barely running at this point.  Ted couldn't be far behind me.  I had to regroup and get my feet moving.  Hicks hill was next.  As I started to climb the hill Dan Cooper went past me.   I needed to get going.  I decided to hang on to Dan as long as I could.  The good part of Hicks hill is all the switchbacks.  Each time you hit one you could see how far back the next person was.  I had about a 50 yard led on the next person.  There were 8 switchbacks in all so I kept count so I could plan my final kick.  I was starting to feel better and just kept pushing.  Where was Ted?  I was running scared.  I hit the last switchback and started my kick.  I had something left and was able to push it to the finish.  Right after I crossed the line I was met by Jay.  He congratulated me because he said that he had beaten me by only 4 positions.  Not enough to catch me in the standings.   A few seconds later Ted crossed the finish line with his wife, Liz pushing him.  Really she had her hand on his back and was PUSHING HIM.   So I took 3rd over all in the GSSS. 
Later at the award ceremony I learned that I also took 2nd in the 45 and over age category.  For 2nd I received a 1/2 case of Red Hook ESB, Red Hook pint glass and a road ID.  Lastly everyone who ran all 6 races was awarded a GSSS hat.   After the race there was a raffle where I picked up another hat.  So it was a very profitable day for me.  

Before the race I talked to Double J and Steve Wolfe to find out how they were going to run because both of them were going to run the Amherst 10 mile race on Sunday.  Both said they were going to take it easy.  Yeah right.  As soon as Chris said GO they were gone and of course then fished 1, 2.  Jim was way out in front as always.  

I would strongly suggest that if you want something different to do during the winter months, try SS'ing races.  The races are a lot of fun and will push you way beyond your comfort zone.  I can't wait until next year.

Lastly Chris Dunn is one of the best race directors I've ever encountered.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Goals for final Snowshoe race of the GSSS

OK, This Saturday is the final race of the GSSS and I find myself in 3rd place overall in the series. But Ted Hall is only 1 point behind me and Jay Myers is only 6 points behind me. So it's a tight race for 3rd place. Last year I finished in 3rd place and was very please with that out come, seeing it was my first year of SS'ing and the fact that I was 49 years old. This year however I'm a little pissed at myself for jumping into the series with little to no base running miles and for my very poor performance at the first race of the season, Pooh Hill. You see, back in November of 2007 I damaged my left achillies tendon during a cross country race and just ignored it. 2 days later I ran another cross country race and did even more damage. At that point I could barely walk. Well I took a couple of days off then did a ton of stretching and was back at training for Boston and running SS races in 2008. By August 2008 I was just a mess and decided to finally see a doctor. So guess what the first thing he tells me to do....take some time off...duh!! But the doctor also sends me to a Physical Therapist. For 3 months I follow the doctors/Therapist orders and it still wasn't getting much better. Oh, I was also told that I have what's called "Pump Bump" on my heal. GREAT!! So in December I train for a week then run a relay race and felt pretty good but could only manage 6:20's per mile. I guess I'm getting slower in my later years. Anyway the holidays sunk up on me and before I knew it I had missed almost a month of training.

Then comes Pooh Hill race. I thought I was ready but was under trained. So 1.5K into the race I had to stop and turn Pooh Hill into my version of Poopooh Hill. I guess when mother nature calls I always respond. As I was doing my business I watched 30+ people pass by. Not very good for points in the GSSS. I did catch some but my race was done. Ted and Jay were way ahead of me at that point and I was way down in 15th place. I almost gave up right then.

At Cobble Mt I was able to gain a few spots but Ted got me again. On the other hand Jay had a bad race and I gained some ground on him. In addtion I found myself in 10th place.

At Sidehillers Jay finished just in front of me but Ted and even "Strong Man" Ri had tough days and finished well behind me. The next day at Frosty's I managed to get both Ted and Jay. At the end of the weekend I was now in 4th place. Not to bad. Ted had 3 points over me to put him in 3rd and Jay was 5 points behind me to place him in 5th.

Last weekend at Horse Hill I manged to nip Jay by just a few seconds and Ted placed 4 spots behind me. That's when I took 3rd place.

So the way I'm looking at it right now is that I have to beat Ted to take 3rd. If Ted beats then we would both have 3 wins each head to head. If he only beats me by one spot then he should get 3rd because the next tie breaker in my mind is the total amount of time he has beaten me by would be more then the total amount of time I've beaten him by. In that case I would finish in 4th over all. Don't get me wrong, 4th is nice but it's kind of like kissing your sister...it's nice but....HEY IT'S YOUR SISTER!!!

So I have to leave everything out on the course on Saturday night. I may not win but I won't give it away.

On a side note, Chris Dunn has been tracking the status for everyone and if things were a little different here's how I would guess the series should have finished out.
1. Jim Johnson (DUH...He is kicking the snot out of everyone)
2. Steve Wolfe (he was sick for Cobble mtn and unable to run so missing 1 race kills you)
3. Chris Dunn (he's the race director for 3 of the races but has shown he's one tough SOB)

So, let's have some fun in the dark at Kingman Farm 5K!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Run UP Mt Major

I woke up in Gilford on Monday and decided I needed to get a good workout in. So I decided to head over to Alton and run up to the top of Mt Major. Mt Major is not a difficult climb but I figured that if I wore my snowshoes I'd get a good workout in. As I entered the parking lot there was a guy closing up his car and was heading towards the Orange marked trail which I later discovered was called the "Rock Trail". I figured that I had never been up the mountain that way so once I got my SS's on I'd head up that trail. About 10 minutes later I was ready to roll. I decided to use my ice cleats because the trails were packed by snowmobiles and with all the warm then cold temperatures they'd be rock hard. I started with a slow jog to warm up then slowly but surely I picked it up. As I ran, I kept a lookout for the guy who headed up before me. After about 20 minutes I was at a point on the trail where there were loads of boulders and the sun had melted most of the snow so the conditions were hammering my SS's. After about 35 minutes I reached the summit. But nobody was up there. The skies were crystal clear and Mt Washington stood out.

I the fore ground you can see Sleeper Island and Rattlesnake Island.

I decided to sit on the rocks and suck down a Hammer Gel before I made the trek back down the mountain when I heard some voices. Four people came up the face of the mountain. They were all in their 60's and 70's. I began talking to them and asked them what trail they had come up. One of the guys responded "Oh that's Art's trail". I had never heard of that trail so I inquired about it. "That guy over there is Art, and he wanted a quicker way up and down the mountain so he cut his own trail", one of the hikers responded. I then started talking to Art and asked him how often he climbed the mountain. He responded "3 to 4 times". So I'm thinking 3 to 4 times in the winter, but that would be selling this 70 year old very short. He climbs the mountain 3 to 4 times a day!!! He said it's how he stays in shape. WOW, I'm hoping that I can still walk when I'm 70. I hooked up with this group and they showed me Art's trail. It sure was the quick way down the mountain, I don't think it made a single turn, until it hit the main trail 100 yards from the bottom.

It was a great day for a hike and I'm glad I got the chance to meet Art.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Horse Hill Farm 7K

Another weekend, another race. Thank god it's only 1 race this weekend. I think my body rejected me last week after running 2 races. I was so beat up last week that by Friday I needed to see a doctor about some issues I experienced on Wednesday and Thursday. All seems OK now but of course there are follow on visits later this week. I guess they have to spread my money around the medical field so all the doctors can pay off their BMW's.

Goals for this race:

1. Don't walk.

2. Try not to fall down.

3. Advance in the GSSS standings.

4. Win my age category.

OK on to RACING!!

On Saturday morning I was heading up to Merrimack, NH for the 5th race in the GSSS. This race was layed out by Steve Wolfe on what is, his home turf. So I was expecting another experience like the layout of Cobble Mtn where he and Chris Dunn laid out the course and it was so tough that Steve didn't even show up to the race (just kidding, Steve was very sick and unable to toe the line). I showed up as usual 2 hours before the start and the race director Mike A. was napping in his car waiting for volunteers and racers to show up. I spoke with him for a few minutes and he explained to me that the course was basically bullet proof. Last weekend we dealt with a light packed snow at Sidehillers and then soft wet mash potato's at Frosty's. Today we could uses skates. I guess you have to be ready for anything at these SS races and there is no use in complaining because you can't change anything, and everybody has to do the same course. I always think it's funny when people ask the distance of a snowshoe race. Of course the race director is going to give as close to an accurate answer as possible but due to about 1000's variables a course will run differently on consecutive days. In fact it will run differently at noon as it ran from 7 am on the same day. And guess what, everyone is suppose to run the same course so it really doesn't matter much.

Anyway, Steve Wolfe soon showed up and we decided to take a quick view of the first 2K of the race and Steve needed to redo some of the course markings so Jim Johnson wouldn't get hopelessly lost. As Steve and I headed out in just our trainers we experienced exactly how hard the snow was. I was like being on an ice rink. I had no traction at all and was worried that I might fall even before the race started. We headed out on the main trail and soon hooked up with John Skewes who was testing out his brand spanking new Dion SS's, he had traction!! This was good to see. After a couple hundred yards we took a left off the main trail and then headed UP. I was really struggling to get any good footing. When we reached the top of the hill we ran down a series of switch backs where the 1K and 6K mark would be chalked onto the ground. I made sure I took note of this because here's where I wanted to start pushing it hard to the finish. We continued to run out to the 2K mark and chalked other critical junctions in the course. Soon we were back to the starting area where the lot was now full and buzzing with racers. Dungeon Rock was once again quite noticeable in their bright orange singlets. After greeting all the usual racers, Chris Dunn, Ted and Liz Hall, Bill Morse, Dan Cooper, Jay Myers, and Patrick Smith, oh I almost forgot, Jim "I don't do 2nd place" Johnson! Jim was whining about not feeling well and that he even skipped a day of running over the week. Was Jim ripe for the picking? Nobody was buying it, we all knew that when the gun was fired Jim would soon be ahead of the bullet.

It was now time for the race. We were all lined up and Mike was giving us final instructions when a car came hot wheeling into the parking lot. It was Ri, Ri was late as always, only this time he was really cutting it close. He quickly signed in with a couple of friends and took his position up front. In a few moments we were off. This was a fast start, and I had smartly changed my cleats from the deep cleats that I need last weekend for the mush to my ice cleats for today's hard pack. As always Jim was off like a shot and before we even hit the first turn he was out of sight. I don't know how he does it but I bet he will do really well in Boston this year. Steve W, and Chris D followed with Mike Wade in fourth. After that, 4 of us started working together. Or should I say 3 of us sucked off of poor Jay Myers. Jay was up front with myself, Patrick Smith and Ri in toe. I thought we were running pretty fast when all of a sudden at about the 1.5K mark, Dan Cooper comes flying by me. I wish him good luck, but I'm thinking to myself, WHAT THE F is he doing? Dan's burst however was short lived and we soon sucked him back up under the power line section of the course. As our foursome made it's way around the course we switched positions every now and then but mainly let Jay lead the way. When we hit one of the major hills I was out of gas and started walking ARRRRGGH!!! At that point Patrick passed me and was now on Jay's tail. Ri was now chasing me down. Ri is a very strong runner, or should I say Ri is just plain STRONG. If you read some of his stories about the races he did last year you would just shake your head and say, "I'd never do anything like that". Anyway, soon Ri passed me and I was now on the back of the train. I decided to just rest and wait until I could use my road speed to attack. At around the 5K mark I noticed that Jay was starting to slow down and Ri and Patrick had passed him. I decide it was also my turn. Jay, you see is only 5 points behind me in the GSSS standings and every spot I give up to him would hurt my goal of finishing in 3rd place like I did last year. I managed to pass Jay just before the last climb back up through the switch backs that we started off on. I knew that I could put some distance on him if I let it rip coming down the back side of the hill. So I let the "Big Dogs Run" and flew down the steep hill. At the bottom of the hill was a stream that you needed to jump and take a left hand turn. Well I made the jump with out any trouble but had forgotten about the left turn. I shot into the woods and realized my mistake as I was doing somersaults through the trees. I popped up quickly and got back on the trail for the last .5K. I could see Patrick up ahead of me and I could hear Jay behind me. I though about trying to chase down Patrick for about .0001 of a second and realized there was no way that was going to happen. But now Jay was gaining on me. The good news was the traction was good and I just kept trying to lift my knees and driving to the finish. Once again I was lucky and just nipped Jay by 4 seconds.
Now you might think that I'd be all smiles after the race but Steve Wolfe snapped a photo showing my true feelings. I was in some pain and look at Jay in the tan shirt, HE'S SMILING!!! Something is just plan wrong here.

So, how did I do against my goals?

1. Don't walk. NOPE, I think I walked 2 or 3 times.

2. Try not to fall down. NOPE, I took a great header after jumping the stream

3. Advance in the GSSS standings. Barely, I'm now in 3rd place, but only by a point.

4. Win my age category. Yup, but Jim Hansen was only 21 seconds behind me.

So now the GSSS standings look like this:

1. Jim Johnson 390

2. Ri Fahnestock 346

3. Scott Graham 328

4. Ted Hall 327

5. Jay Myers 322

So nobody is going to catch Double J. (There's a big surprise). We might be able to get Ri if he is late enough to the last race (this is a real possibility). So it will come down to the last race for 3rd place. Ted, Jay and myself are all on Acidotic Racing but we all want this and it should make for some interesting racing at Kingman Farm 5K. You see, Kingman Farm 5K is being held at night and all racers have to wear a head lamp so you really won't have any idea who is behind you and will be running scared the whole race. This is going to be fun!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend Double....Ouch!!

OK, so back 20 years ago I used to be able to do a double and I even did a Penta (5) in one weekend but those days are long gone. For some reason the Granite State Snowshoe Series (GSSS) planned 2 races this pass weekend and if I was to maintain my standing or advance I'd have to make it to both races. After 2 races I was in 10th place, and figured that for me to advance I'd have to have 2 very good races. We'll see!!! I decided to set my goals for the weekend:

1. Run and entire race. Every other snowshoe race I've walked at least once.
2. Try and qualify for the Nationals at Sidehillers.
3. Advance in the GSSS rankings
4. Win an age group.
5. Beat the first place woman in a race.
6. Not fall during a race.

Saturday at Sidehillers

The first race of the weekend was in Center Sandwich. This is a very nice little town in central NH that gets its largest population during the fair they hold every fall. It's a great family take. I left my place in Gilford at 8:30 AM and then realized that it was Fishing Derby Weekend on the lake. You have to see it to believe it, 1000's of people are out on the lake. Whole villages are created with bobhouses, snowmobiles, ATV's, Cars, Trucks and even Planes are on the lake.
This is a shot I took in Meredith with my cell phone.

I arrived in Center Sandwich to find Chris Dunn milling around. Soon after Jim Johnson and his "Very Understanding" girl friend Kristin arrived with Dave Dunham schlepping along in the back seat (hey Dave "Three's a Crowd"). A few minutes later Steve Wolfe arrived. Steve had been fighting the flu the week before so he was talking down his prospects for the day. Steve and I signed in and then headed out in our shoes to take a look at the course and check out the hill we were scheduled to climb. The race starts out on the fair grounds which doubles as cross country ski trails in the winter. The race then crosses a road and heads up a hill. When Steve and I ran the course we noticed that the fair grounds trails we not as firm as we would like and that getting any speed in this section would be tough. But when we crossed the road we figured we'd be in real trouble. The trail was single track and wasn't packed at all. We ran up the hill and just kind of laughed because this hill was nothing compared to Pooh hill or Cobble Mtn. We should be able to dance up this hill. We ran back to the start and gave our report to Acidotic Captain Chris Dunn. Chris kind of looked at us like we had 3 heads and said that he remembered it to be a lot tougher then our report indicated. We'll see.

As more people arrived I noticed that the talent level of the group was a who's who of road racing. I would be lucky to finish in the top 20 today. Chris Dunn kept telling us that we were running for the team today and don't worry about the fast guys up front. The only way I was going to catch any of them was to tackle them at the starting line anyway. But to help us out with the team theme Chris was handing us some very nice Acidotic hats to say warm

Speaking of staying warm, the forecast for this race was in the mid 40's. WRONG! When I woke up it was 0 degrees out side. It must have been in the single digits now.

Paul K. called us to the starting line and explained that they had put snow on the road so we would not destroy our cleats and to try and stay in the middle of the single track or you would be waist deep in snow if you didn't. After last weeks race at Cobble Mtn where I fell down the entire mountain because I couldn't stay in the single track I was determined to not fall and stay on the packed trail. Paul K. then boomed the start of the race "GO!!!". I don't think I've ever seen so many people go out so fast. I felt like I was running in sand and was working way to hard for the first 1/2 mile. I was right on Chris D's tail crossing the road but I was already out of gas. As we climbed the hill my heart rate did it's normal thing and hit about 300. I kept telling myself that this hill is much easier then the others I've run and I should be able to cruse up it. Nothing was working! Half way up I fell and 5 people passed me while I was on the ground. Darkness was closing in around me. I got up but found it difficult to get going again. Slowly but surely I started turning over my feet and was able to continue my climb. Finally I reached what I thought was the top of the hill...WRONG. This course plays tricks on you. At the top were open fields that they had us run around and it seemed that every one of them were UP. Not a steep climb but always a climb. Worse yet was if you stepped 1 inch outside of the packed snow you were going down. Even while staying in the packed snow it seemed that you lost 6 inches for every stride you took. The good news was that I started passing people back up on the fields. The really good news is that I realized that I was a head of a bunch of people who had beat me at the other 2 races in the series.

When we finally started back down to the road I could tell I was being stocked by John Skewes who had beat me at Cobble. So as we came down the bush whack trail I was running scared and was not able to get any good drive from my snowshoes. The snow was just to light and I stupidly left my ice cleats on my showshoes. Once we crossed the road I was in a big field and would be able to peek over my shoulder to see if I was getting reeled in. Sure enough a 17 year old kid was picking up spots and had his sights set on passing me. I was frantically moving back and forth across the trail to find firmer snow so I could drive to the finish. No matter where I went the snow was all the same and I was now running in what felt like mash potato's. Kristin was out in the field taking pictures. I tried to look good for the camera but I think the frozen "stuff" on my nose and beard just made me look like and old guy who was not in control of his body functions.

photo by Kristin Wainwright

I started driving my arms and lifting my knees and was watching the finish line getting nearer and nearer. I could hear the kid behind me and I could hear the people at the finish line cheering us on. If it's a race this kid wants then it's a race I'm going to give him. I was really ticked off with myself last week giving up a place with 100 yards left, it wasn't going to happen today. I gave one last all out effort and manged to get him by 3 seconds. WOW I was dead. I had nothing left and was proud of my effort. Of course Bob Dion had beaten me once again by 1:14 so he took the over 50 title, and once again the first place woman smoked my by 3 minutes. But still I did manage to beat 5 or 6 people who normally beat me. So it wasn't a bad day out on the snow. The really good news was that I qualified for the Nationals. I don't think I'll attend but it's nice to say.

As I made that 2+ hour drive home my bliss was broken by a call from work that we had issues with our Internet sites, so I spent 1.5 hours of the ride calling people and getting things back in order. Fire drills are always fun.

Sunday at Frosty's

Now the real question was could I do a 2nd race in one weekend. My body didn't feel to bad so I was hopeful. I arrived in Atkinson and quickly signed in. I think that they have organized the sign in procedure a little to much at this race. I had to go to 3 different tables to complete the process. Made me feel like I was at the old registry of motor vehicles.

Chris Dunn was already there and was talking team again. There were big points on the block today because of the size of the race. In addition Dungeon Rock would be short runners because one of their team members was moving and he enlisted the help of a couple of team members. However Acidotic was going to be short runners too.

I hooked up with Steve Wolfe and we did an easy warm up on the roads this time. The temperature was already in the 50's and the snow was turning to slush. Once again footing was going to be tough. After Steve and I warmed up we headed inside to determine what to wear during the race. We decide that shorts were in order today. Chris Dunn promptly pointed out that I needed to tan up my legs before showing them to the crowd. I'm guessing they were milkweed white. Steve and I then took a quick run in our showshoes to see what the last km was like. As we ran snow was kicking up and hitting the backs of my legs. It felt very cold and sharpe like knives. I was questioning myself on my choice of attire. My hope was that once I started working hard the cold would go unnoticed. As we lined up for the start a bunch of high school kids with hockey shirts on jumped into the front row. A bunch of us talked them out of this and they moved a couple of rows back. This was going to be another fast start because the course takes a corner after 50 yards. My goal was to get out fast and not get bunched up at this turn.

The race director thanked everyone for coming out and soon gave the command to start. As I suspected it was a fast start. In fact Jim Johnson started so fast that after 100 yards into the race I think he had a 50 yard lead. Jim continued this and was out of sight by the mile mark. The snow was soft and being able to drive through each step was not an option. This would be a battle of attrition. I was running in 6th place and was feeling surprisingly good. At about the half way mark Ri F and Ted H passed me and I was already looking over my shoulder for more to come. I spotted the first place woman was only 20 yards back and Bob Dion was another 20 yards behind her. I was running scared once again. I kept my eyes on Ri and Ted to see if either one of them was faltering. A couple of times Ri stopped to walk up some of the hills, and I figured I'd get him sooner or later. But I think Ri uses the walking as a means to regroup and take off. Sure enough after one of his walks he put it into another gear and passed Ted for good. Now was my chance to get Ted. I came up behind him and he motioned me to pass him. As I passed him I tried to tell him that the first woman was right on our heels. The only problem was I was mumbling and I think it came out more like "firt wman hel blah blah'. After a couple more rollers I notice Ri was walking again. Was this my chance to get him? Not at all, the club house was now in sight and Ri was pulling away. I noticed he threw down a shirt that he was carrying about a 1/4 mile from the finish. I wanted to pick it up and hand it to him at the finish line to be a smart a$$ but was scared that the first woman was going to catch me. I peeked over my shoulder and there she was still 20 yards back. Here we go again, two days in a row. The snow was mash potato's no matter where you ran so I just stayed in the middle of the trail and pushed to the finish. I luckily nipped Kim Webber by 10 seconds. I took the over 50 age category which brought with it a $20 DD card. I never walked and for the first time I beat Bob Dion. SUPER DAY for me.

I did a 3 mile cool down run with Jim J (1st), Dave Q (2nd), Steve W (3rd), Keith O (14) and we got back just as they were handing out the prizes.

Lets see how I did against my goals for the weekend.

1. Run and entire race. Done at Frosty's
2. Try and qualify for the Nationals at Sidehillers. Accomplished
3. Advance in the GSSS rankings. Went from 10th to I think 4th. Official results not out yet
4. Win an age group. Done at Frosty's
5. Beat the first place woman in a race. Accomplished
6. Not fall during a race. Once again done at Frosty's.

Horse Hill Farm for the 5th race in the GSSS!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cobble Mtn Snowshoe Classic

What a day!

And They're OFF!!

Last year on a lark I decided to do my first snowshoe race and it was Cobble Mtn. It was a first year race and seemed like a great lot of fun and best of all it was only 6 miles from my place. Well I ran it and it recked me so I decided to give it another go this year. What is the definition of crazy? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome....aka Cobble Mtn.

As I awoke at 5 AM I peaked outside and it was clear skies. It was going to be a glorious day. I left my place at 6 to meet up with Chris Dunn the race director at 6:30. We both arrived just before the agreed time and we began unloading his van. For a small race there sure is a lot of stuff, which included the 10 cases of Red Hook Beer for awards. Chris and I set a bunch of things up and soon it was time to start getting ready to run. Chris did his normal pre race announcements which included a twist to this race. This race would be a Hat Race. What's a Hat Race you're thinking? A Hat Race is a race where the race director drops hats along the course and if you pick one up and finish with it on you're included in a special raffle for a 12 pack of beer. Not Bad...

Chris gave the 10 second notice....5 seconds...GO!! Jim Johnson took off like a flash. I in turn took off like maple syrup that was left out on a cold winters night. We were going up (what else is new) an easy hill that leads up to the Gunstock ski area. Now on a normal day this wouldn't be much trouble because they pack the snow nicely for the cross country skaters but this snow was from just a couple days ago and it was lite and didn't pack together to well. So with each step you sunk in a little. Mistake #1 I switched from my deep powder cleats to my ice cleats just before the race, so my traction was suspect. Soon this slight hill became steep and I was sucking wind. And that's when it happened. Leslie Dillion passed me. She was looking very strong but shortly after she passed me she was also reduced to a slow pace/walk. I was now running in about 9th place but the world was closing in on me. Ri was the next person to pass me and I decided to hang on to his tail for as long as I could. Soon we hit some of the single track and it was so narrow that it was tripping me up every couple of strides. Not only was it narrow but if you stepped 1 inch outside of the track you could end up waist deep in snow. After 2 bouts with single track then back on groomed trails it was Cobble Mtn time. Last year I was reduced to a "drooling, snot bubble blowing, pile off cow pie" on this climb and this year was no different. My heart rate what hitting somewhere around 300 and it could have been -100 degrees out and I would have still been over heating. This climb is tough. When I reached the top Ri had 30 yards or so on me and I thought that I might be able to catch him. But next came the steep down hill part of the course on single track. I was so tired I was not able to stay in control. I ended up tumbling down 4 times as I came down the back side of the Mtn. On one occasion I ended up falling right next to another guy and we just kind of sat there waiting to see who was going to get up first. He did and extended his hand to help me up. I snapped back, "NO I want to just sit here a while". I was beat and had nothing left. My sunglasses were now full of snow and I needed to flip them up so I could see. By the time I hit the bottom of the hill I was in 17th place and was hot on the heals of the next guy (Mike Doyle, 60 years old). After about 200 yards I was able to make my move and pass him. I noticed that he was most likely in my age category and I needed to stay focused if I was to beat him. I knew what was left to run because Chris Dunn and I had gone out and put the final 1/4 mile of markers out on the course earlier. There was one big hill that climbed for 100 yards then it was flat to down hill to the finish. As we hit the last hill I had 20 yards on Mike but my day was done. He quickly went past me and put 30 yards on me. I crested the hill and figured I give it one more shot. I pushed with everything I had and I was starting to close the gap. I'd like to say I ran out of race course but Mike heard me coming and with 100 yards left he kicked it up and kept his distance on me.

So 17th is where I finished. I know I didn't feel as bad as last year (last year my lungs hurt for 2 days) but it still hurt alot. The bad news was that I finished 4th in my age category. Out of the money again.

After the race there was a spread of food and drink. There was also a kids race that was a lot of fun to watch. Kids just don't run naturally with big planks on their feet. Soon the raffle began and I was skunked in that too. Then came the awards. Chris had built an Olympic style podium for all three people to stand on (Gold, Silver and Bronze). Lastly, was the snowshoe raffle, skunked again. WOW, tough day for me, skunked in everything. Well not quite, I got to run a snowshoe race at a great location with some fantastic weather and a whole lot of great people.

Will I be back next year? You Bet...I'm going to beat Cobble Mtn!!!....AKA CRAZY